Friday, July 31, 2015

Disney Movies - Days 67 & 68

You know you're getting tired of doing a challenge when you forget to post, and that's just what I did yesterday...completely forgot, so I've got some catching up to do!

First up, Wednesday night. I went the way of the jungle and finally did the Tarzan series. I have seen the first one, but not the other two, so I didn't know how the night would go. The first movie, Tarzan, is pretty good. The background animation is really good considering the generation it comes from and the characters are OK. Tarzan's hair has always bothered me for some strange reason and Jane's facial features border on the creepy, but otherwise, the story is good and so is the music (although it gets really loud sometimes...must be a Phil Collins thing because I noticed it on Brother Bear too).

There are practically no special features on the disc, which is kind of a shame because I would have liked to see the Backstage Disney stuff on this movie. Oh well, maybe with the next edition we'll get some.

I didn't know which sequel to watch next, so I went with Tarzan & Jane. The animation on this one was shocking! Not only were there the usual overly heavy black outlines, but there was this weird shadow play on the characters from the surrounding plants that just make the people look translucent instead of "shaded" upon. I almost wanted to rewatch the first one to see if they did the same weird shadow play on it too, but I resisted. This sequel is another one of those the main characters sitting around telling "remember when" stories. This one actually wasn't that bad. All three little stories were actually good story wise. I stopped looking at the screen because the animation was driving me nuts.

A very young Mandy Moore sings a couple of songs on the soundtrack (one gets played over and over and over again) and, what little special features there are, she's talking about how it's cool for her to be a part of Disney history by doing the soundtrack and how she's always wanted to do something for Disney. Considering that she's now Rapunzel and Sheriff Callie, I'd say she's pretty locked in Disney history!

I did Tarzan II next, although I was dreading it like the plague because of the cover art showing Tarzan young. Those kind of sequels are worse than the stories within a story kind, so my expectations were low. It was a good thing, because this one was long, boring, and don't get me started on the animation quality. Granted, they softened up on the shadow play, but not nearly enough. About the only thing positive I can say about it is that they did soften the outlines a bit so they weren't so heavy. I couldn't find a trailer, so we're relegated to the usual DisneyOnDemand clip.

Another bad thing about these sequels is that they rarely get the same actors and that's distracting to me to hear another voice. Do they think kids are stupid and can't tell the difference? If they can't get the same actors and can't do the same caliber animation, they shouldn't do a sequel at all. At least Pixar gets that right.

Which brings up another rant...I do love Mandy Moore, but I don't think Disney should reuse actors for different characters because, again, it's distracting. I'm hearing a voice that doesn't match the body. Surely kids notice that kind of stuff too, right? I've been to Disney World enough to have seen even the smallest of kids go "mom, that's not the same Snow White we saw yesterday". Kids aren't stupid. Granted, I can usually always tell what actor is doing a character by just their voice and I usually attach that actor to the character from that moment on in my minds eye, so it makes it difficult to separate them. I guess it's really no different than live action movies, but seriously, who doesn't see Daniel Radcliffe in a movie and not see him as Harry Potter still? Some characters are more memorable than others and animation characters tend to stick in my mind more than real people do. But I am weird, so please take that into consideration.

To finish off the night, I watched my Quack Pack, Vol 1 disc which contained three episodes of Quack Pack. I don't ever remember the show and there has only ever been one of these discs, so I'm not sure much about it's history. They weren't great shows, but they had Donald Duck in them, so I still liked them anyway. I have three VHS tapes of Quack Pack episodes too, but I still haven't decided if I'm going to dig out the old VCR or not yet. I was able to find episodes on YouTube, but no trailer for this set, so I'll pass on the clip.

Thursday night had no pattern whatsoever. I started with Gnomeo & Juliet. There are things about this movie that I like, like the storyline (a happy ending to one of the greatest love stories/tragedies ever) and the cast which is composed of some great British actors, but there are also things I don't like (cough, animation, cough). I get that it was produced by Elton John and David Furnish, but the amount of Elton saturation is just over and above the norm. I like Elton, but I don't love him, so it's probably great for one of his fans, but not so much for a non-fan.

About the only "how cool!" moment I had was when James McAvoy (Gnomeo) and Patrick Stewart (William Shakespeare) come together in animation form (for those that don't know, James plays the young Charles Xavier while Patrick plays the older one in the current X-Men series). I fan-girled a bit during that scene, but otherwise, it was just another movie.

I'm still not sure what led me to my next choice, probably because it was on the top of the stack of live actions that I've got left. I have never even watched Underdog, although I bought it the second it came out. I am old enough to remember the cartoon and I figured the live action would probably suck, so I've held off. It wasn't as bad as I was expecting, but again, there is the voice issue. Jason Lee does the voice of Underdog and, as some of you know, he's also the voice of Syndrome in The Incredibles. It's one thing to voice the same type of character in different movies (although I still don't like it), but when a very distinguishable voice does a villain in one movie and a hero in another, it's just insane! Amy Adams as Polly Purebred isn't as bad because at least she's staying with the female heroine lead-type, but it still wasn't good. I was literally squirming in my chair by the time the movie finished and I probably won't ever watch it again. I think I've decided that actor reuse is worse than crappy animation and that's saying something!

At least there was an original Underdog cartoon episode in the special features...that finally made the disc worthwhile.

At that point, I didn't want to watch a movie that blew the previous two out of the water, but rather needed one worse to get it over with, so I went with Prince of Persia. I had only ever watched this movie once, but I didn't like it, so I never watched it again. I don't know if it was the mood of the night or what, but by the time I got done with this viewing, I had decided that maybe I've been giving it a bad rap all these years because it's really not that bad (or maybe it was because I wasn't sure if I could get any worse for the night). Sure, I still can't stand Jake Gyllenhaal and I don't get what his appeal is, but when you're stitching and not watching, even he's not that bad (and, to the best of my knowledge, he hasn't ever voiced a Disney character, and let's hope it stays that way). I will say, that the whole sand surfing scene was a bit too much, but otherwise, I actually think I might watch this one again someday (although John Carter will forever be stuck in the "never again" pile).

Considering this one technically had a subtitle attached (the name of the movie is actually Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), I'm sure they meant to make a franchise out it before it flopped. To be honest, I'd rather see Persia as a new additional land in Animal Kingdom versus the upcoming Pandora from Avatar and Avatar is getting it's sequels.

I don't know that much about Middle Eastern culture, but Morocco is my favorite land in Epcot (yes, I know that's an African country, but it has a more Middle Eastern vibe) and I really kind of like Middle Eastern music although I don't know much about it and don't really have access to it much in the heart of bum-fudge Arkansas. The closing song on this disc was a bit surprising, it had that kind of flair to it, but was sung by Alanis Morissette. I actually rewound the credits twice to listen to it again and again. This is probably a fan-made video, but I've been playing it the entire time I wrote this post for the sake of hearing the song:

One more rant for the day...when a movie is finished and the powers that be view them for the final time, can they not see how bad the movie is? Do they watch movies like John Carter or Underdog and go, "yep, we're in for an Oscar boys" or do they just concede that there is nothing they can do, so they might as well release it as is? Some of these bad ones could be fixed by creative editing or moving the scenes around or even cutting some scenes out and yet they choose to leave them alone. Obviously the script starts out decent, or the movie wouldn't get green-lit in the first place, right? I know that everyone has different tastes and some movies are going to appeal more than others, but appeal is way different than general suckiness. I think that's one thing Walt always did right...if he didn't like it, it either got reworked or trashed, no matter the cost. After all these movies, I've come to realize that maybe my hatred of the second gen animation movies was misfounded, but I still think that Walt wouldn't have approved of the direction the studios went in and I still think he would be livid at these sequels and flops bearing his name. Animation has finally gotten things right again, but live action has a long way to go to live up to the Disney name.

But enough ranting for the day, I'm hoping to clear out a chunk of movies this weekend so that I can finish in the next week or two. I'm also hoping to finish a big chunk of Alice and the B's this weekend, so here's hoping that the best laid plans of mice and men don't go awry!

Live Action: 78
Full-Length Animation: 93
Mixed-Medium: 8
Animated Shorts: 282
Live Action Shorts: 1
Mixed-Medium Shorts: 3
Animated Series: 81
Mixed-Medium Series: 2
Documentaries: 8
Concerts: 1


Tiffany Pincombe said...

Great info. I haven't seen a lot of these and after reading your comments on the second gen animation I wonder if that's why I haven't seen a lot of these movies. Good luck with Alice and the B's!

Kate said...

Great reviews! I've never seen the Tarzan movies, but I like reading your thoughts on them. Gnomeo and Juliet and Underdog are cute; I've seen them both once but didn't like them enough to watch again.